Not too long ago, the classified section of the paper was called, “Help Wanted,” synonymous with the definition of employment. Today, companies are “Wanting Help,” giving credence to the concept and and practice of recruitment.In today’s very competitive market – with unemployment being at a 26-year low, with skilled candidates being so hard to find and hiring needs growing – companies have to be far more strategic in how they attract and retain good people.In turn, we as recruitment practioners must focus on applying “Smart Messaging” in our recruitment advertising. We must ask. Are we telling our company’s story in an intelligent and compelling way? Are we keeping the candidate’s career goals and interests at the forefront of our communications campaign? Unlike consumer product advertising, in recruitment advertising we are asking our readers to make a life-changing decision – a decision that will have an impact not only on their life, but on the lives of their loved ones. That’s a very big step.An effective recruitment communications program inspires confidence with your readers and provides them with a clear and succinct understanding of not just what the job opportunity is, but what your company is about. After all, if they are going to leave a current employer for a new company, they must base their decision on some very compelling information and a sense that they will be better off in their new employment situation.”Smart Messaging” is not just a spiffy term I have coined to make a point. It’s a concept that serves as the umbrella to ensure that every word and design element in recruitment advertising becomes an integral part of the message, assuring that the entire story is told. This is where most companies fall down in their recruitment advertising campaigns. Companies today, feeling the pinch of the high cost of advertising, coupled with the desire to slam as many job specifications into an ad as possible, fail at telling potential job candidates what’s in it for them. Yet, this is where companies can truly set themselves apart from their hiring competition.Look at it this way. In the workplace, we all have a lot in common. All of us wake up a whole lot earlier than we care to, get in that awful commute to the office, perform our tasks and hopefully go home at a decent hour. Where we differ is how we respond to the kind of work we do. Is it challenging? Are we having fun? Can we see the opportunity for growth professionally and financially. These are the primary motivators that keep us in our job. If these factors are not satisfied in workplace, our eyes start roving. That’s when we start to look at recruitment advertisements to determine if another prospective employer or a new job opportunity is worth pursuing.
All advertising needs to create interest. That’s a given. But is your recruitment ad creating enough interest in the minds of job candidates to make them want to make the jump? Now, if I’m “running away from a job” – or worse yet, being chased out – I’m responding to your ad. But maybe not the candidate you seek. In order to capture the, “passive job seeker,” you need to target your message. This is where you need to get into the head of your target candidates and determine what their motivators are. Structure your message based on their perspective. What interests them? What single most compelling reason would they have to join your organization?
This is an area where a communications partner can be of great assistance. Most recruitment practitioners are too busy to consider the “psychographics” of the prospective candidate. Psychographics are the psychological components of demographics; the posture and attitude of your target candidate; the intangibles like the “mindset” of Generation X versus the age group, which would be the demographic.
In recruitment advertising, you also need to consider your company’s USP, the Unique Selling Proposition. What makes your company tangibly different than your competitors. Anyone can say, “Come grow with us. We offer a lot of opportunity.”
What actually does that mean? Can you back it up? In general, as a society, we are very suspicious of advertising. We don’t want to be sold down the river with products and services that cannot fulfill our needs. Candidates are even more suspicious of recruitment advertising. False promises do not contribute to your desire to have retention in the workplace. Remember, your advertising is supposed to elicit an “I want to buy” response from the candidate. Therefore, your ads must convey “meaningful specifics.” Again, what’s in it for the candidate?
Most times we proceed with our intent to advertise to appease those harried hiring managers from hell. We need to structure our creative platforms and practices around a strategy that speaks to proactivity, rather than reactivity. If not, we will find ourselves in a “Help Wanted” mode and not a “Wanting Help” mindset. And that is not where most of us want to be.